By: Jefferson Webb
Although my great helm served me faithfully for the better part of a decade, I was starting to look around for another helmet to go along with some upgrades to my harness and gear. As I looked around at the various helmets on the market that are mass-produced, I really did not find anything that I thought would be a good replacement. When I looked at custom helmets from some of the outstanding smiths and forges that exist, the price was just much MUCH more than what I was willing to pay. Some of those custom helms are worth it, but I did not want to, nor could I afford to foot that sort of bill. Part of my issue with my great helm I think came from the human desire to change things up sometimes (like redecorating the house, getting a new house or car…). But my research into a new helm also comes from a knowledge that the great helm (in particular this style) was an earlier helmet and as far as we can tell, did not see much use with a harness of plate armour like the bascinet helmets, sallets, and such did. So, the idea that it would be out of place with my harness was lingering there. That said, as a good friend of mine stated in a conversation recently, “The people depicted in most of the sources in harnesses were royalty or nobility, and were able to afford the most up-to-date and complete harnesses. Others such a lower knights and men-at-arms often had to piece together harnesses and this was not so well depicted.” Something that makes perfect sense, and that I already had lingering in the back of my mind as well. Given this conversation and that fact that my great helm has saved my head and face some pain several times over the span of its service to me, I decided to give it an exterior makeover and continue on with this helm. Since it is historically documented that helms were painted from time to time, why not? I decided to share the basic steps with you. Continue reading “Painting Your Helmet”
There are many types of period helmets/head protection that one can invest in for Medieval/Renaissance/Historical European Martial Arts. In our martial arts organization you still typically see steel armour helmets. Soon enough there will be more and more heavy fencing H.E.M.A. masks involved in our training sessions, but we like the weight and sensory limitations that a period helm places a fighter under to give us a feel for what out forefathers in these martial arts experienced. The helmet we will be looking at is the get Dressed for Battle, Crusader Spangen Helmet.
I’ve recently decided to try out this helmet as a replacement for my great helm that I have been wearing for around eight years, and I’ve decided to write a review on the helmet after having some freestyle matches utilizing it. Firstly, the helmet is comfortable to wear and mounts very well on the head. There is room for an arming cap and coif, and you will need that for this helmet. The helmet have wonderful visibility and the breathability inside of this helmet is also great. That said, the oculars on the helmet’s face mask (it is not a hinged visor helm) are larger enough that I highly recommend wearing protective eye hardware inside of the helmet. I use hard plastic eye protection made for doing yard/garden work (mowing and edging). It is not a guarantee against injury, but an added element to help keep the wearer safer in sparring with rebated swords, etc… Continue reading “Review: Crusader Spangen Helm by Get Dressed for Battle”
By: Jefferson P. Webb
While it is very appealing and actually quite practical when attempting to attract new members into your martial arts school or club to have a nice indoor training facility, there is much to be said for conducting the bulk of your training outdoors.
For years now my adult students and I have conducted our entire training schedules outdoors and in the elements. The importance of such training was once again brought to mind at last weekend’s Saturday training session when the wind chill factor for us was 7 degrees Fahrenheit. To some of you perhaps that is not terribly cold, but in Texas that’s on the cold side. Your body is naturally effected in various ways depending on the temperature of the environment in which you find yourself. In a dedicated martial arts school where we train to defend ourselves and those we love, we know that we need to be familiar with as many different environmental conditions as possible in which we may be faced with a threat to our safety. Here is where we call to mind the old saying, “Train like you fight, fight like you train.”
There are many people of whom have been involved in a physical threat situation within the confines of their home, office, or another indoors, controlled environment where the temperature is a nice 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But many times people have also been assaulted and faced with the threat of assault in outdoor scenarios. By training outdoors in our drills an in freestyle sparing, we have experienced what ice and snow does to the traction for our feet/footwork. We have experienced what mud and roughly ankle-deep water does to our footing. We know what the rain does to our grip, or what the frigid temperatures does to our grip because of a loss of dexterity in our fingers. We have trained in the three-digit temperatures of Texas in July and August and have become very familiar in what it is like to face a threat in very hot and dry conditions. All of this is done with one on one, and multiple opponents verses one person scenarios. Being experienced in multiple threat situations is another vital part of training like you fight, so that if you do find yourself faced with a multiple attacker situation, you do not find yourself mentally overwhelmed, thus leading to being swiftly physically overwhelmed. You will know much better what to do. You will fight much in the way that you have trained.
Not only do we teach adults, but we also have children’s classes. We do train them indoors because of their age. Exposure to the elements can be much more harmful to them and like any responsible martial arts school that cares about its students and instructors, safety come before anything else. And without a doubt, I can say that I am sure that if my adult classes were held indoors in a comfortable 70-75 degree training hall with padded mat floors we would have many more students than what we do in our adult classes. But, the adults that we have in our adult classes are well versed in a variant of environmental situations in which they may have to defend themselves, and each one of them will tell you that they are better off for having trained the way that they have trained.
Do not limit yourselves as martial artists. Experience everything that you can possibly experience in your training and do it as near as can possibly be done to the various situations in which you may find yourself faced with a threat. Train like you fight, and you will fight like you have trained.
At many of the training sessions for officers and sergeants of New Ulster Steel Fighting, we enjoy taking time to deal with some of the many questions posed by famed French knight, Sir Geffroi De Charny (c.1306-1356) pertaining to tournaments, jousts and war. We believe these questions are extremely vital to our growth as learners and practitioners of Historical European Martial Arts. To take the time to re-ask De Charny’s questions and contemplate, debate, and explore the possible answers together brings about some very critical thinking, and thus often deep discussion. What’s more, we find that some of the answer possibilities can apply to matters of integrity, and the exercise of good character in everyday life, and not just when undertaking martial activities. Continue reading “Questions from the Grave”